Handler Should be Defrocked – Measles and The Vaccine Conspiracy, The Gospels According to Luke and the Nazi Ties to Medicine –

I attended an Orthodox anti-vaccine rally. Here’s what I saw.

NEW YORK (JTA) — The weirdest part of an Orthodox anti-vaccine conference here was probably when the emcee, a rabbi wearing a black hat and white beard, quoted the Gospel of Luke.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” he cried, reciting the Gospels nearly verbatim.

Rabbi Hillel Handler wasn’t referring to the 200 people gathered in the basement of a haredi Orthodox wedding hall in Brooklyn to hear about the alleged dangers of vaccines. Rather, he was talking about the doctors, rabbis and politicians who he says are all hoodwinked by a massive conspiracy orchestrated by drug companies and the Centers for Disease Control to make money off of vaccines.

While the scientific consensus supports vaccination and regards it as a historic boon to public health, the crowd, like the emcee, do not put much stock in that science. Handler and the other speakers charged the CDC and its purported stooges with hiding the dangers of vaccines and destroying evidence that they are harmful. They cited no credible evidence.

“This is all being orchestrated by the drug companies, which are very close to the CDC,” Handler told the crowd in a gender-segregated room at a catering hall in the Midwood neighborhood. “The doctors all march in lockstep with the CDC. The doctors don’t think they’re marching in lockstep. They don’t understand that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, is a totally corrupt swamp. … They are criminals.”

The rally comes amid an ongoing measles outbreak sparked by low vaccination rates, particularly in the Orthodox community. According to the CDC, there have been 981 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year. In New York City, according to the city’s Department of Health, there have been 566 confirmed measles cases since September, the highest totals since 1992. The city says most of the cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The city required immunization in heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods earlier this year. Large Orthodox organizations have encouraged their communities to vaccinate.

“[C]ountless rabbinical figures and leaders, including leading rabbis in the Agudath Israel movement and doctors serving these communities, have repeatedly encouraged vaccination in the strongest possible terms,” reads an April statement by Agudath Israel of America, a leading haredi group. “Indeed, the overwhelming majority of children enrolled in Jewish schools are vaccinated.”

But there are some vocal holdouts.

At the rally held late Tuesday night, organized by an anti-vaccine group calling itself the United Jewish Community Council, speakers cast doubt on established medical opinion and the CDC. The crowd, which appeared to be mostly but not entirely haredi, was receptive to the message and applauded.

One attendee told another that large pharmaceutical companies like Bayer and Merck, which now produce vaccines, had collaborated with Nazi Germany. (Bayer was a division of a larger company that did collaborate with the Nazis, though now it is under different ownership. Merck, originally connected to a German company of the same name, split off into an independent American firm in 1917, before the Nazis came to power.)

“If you had bought a mutual fund in the ’30s, back in Nazi Germany, you would have done phenomenally,” the attendee remarked.

After Handler, speakers included Dr. Daniel Neides, a former vice chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute who resigned last year after writing a column questioning vaccines. (He later apologized, saying he “fully supports vaccination” and was trying to open a conversation about their safety, not question their use.)

But the bulk of the program was led by Del Bigtree, a Hollywood producer without medical qualifications who styles himself as an expert on vaccines. He directed the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe.” Last month Bigtree spoke to a similar rally in Monsey, New York, also the home of a large haredi community.

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Rabbi Hillel Handler, a Dangerous anti-vaxxer, pro-Metziza b’Peh, anti-Zionist, anti-Women, Pro-Sex-Abuse Cover-up Rabbi on Stage in Rockland

Brooklyn’s kooky anti-vaxxer rabbi is extremist on sex abuse, circumcision — even opposes Israel

Brooklyn’s kooky anti-vaxxer rabbi is extremist on sex abuse, circumcision — even opposes Israel

Rabbi Hillel Handler enjoyed a rare moment in the glare of mainstream media this week when he addressed an anti-vaccination crowd in a heavily Hasidic town in suburban Rockland County.

The member of the Satmar Hasidic sect riled up the crowd of a couple of hundreds of people with a diatribe that accused liberals in and out of government of using a still-spreading measles outbreak to target observant Jews.

Handler called Mayor de Blasio a “nasty German” and claimed it was “in his DNA” to hate Jews.

”Like the Fuhrer, he says: ‘Blame the Jews. They’re contaminating the whole city,’ ” Handler told the Daily News Wednesday.

De Blasio shot back that Handler was spouting “dangerous and irresponsible lies.”

“Rabbi Handler is putting at risk the lives he claims he’s trying to save,” said Miranda Marcy, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

At the rally in Monsey, Handler focused mostly on measles, although he did veer off into an anti-immigrant diatribe claiming that undocumented immigrants pose a more serious health threat.

Little did the crowd or the reporters covering the event know that Handler has a long history of supporting radical causes on the far right-wing fringes of Jewish opinion.

Handler has fiercely attacked observant Jews for reporting child sex abuse to police, claiming such accusations should be handled by rabbinic authorities. He once even defended a rabbi who was convicted of raping his own daughter, saying the girl was lying about the abuse.

Handler also opposed efforts to regulate metzizah b’pei, a controversial circumcision rite that health officials say can spread deadly herpes to newborn boys.

He even opposes Israel’s existence.

“There’s a lot of half-crazies like him in America,” said Alexander Rapaport, who runs a network of kosher soup kitchens and recently recorded a pro-vaccination public service video. “It’s the price of freedom in America.”

Rapaport, who happens to be a neighbor of Handler, shrugs him off as a phony who has no pulpit and no real following.

Others see him as a powerful danger in his ability to link different hateful causes. Shmarya Rosenberg spent several years chronicling abuse and corruption in the ultra-Orthodox world but has since left the blog called Failed Messiah.

“He’s an extremist, and he’s amoral,” said Shmarya Rosenberg. “He’s appears to be a gun for hire in the ultra-Orthodox community.”

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